DOTHAN, AL (WTVY) A new University of Alabama study shows the number of fatal traffic crashes in Alabama spiked by nearly 25% last year.
1,058 people died in vehicle crashes statewide in 2016. Of those fatalities, 47 vehicle-related deaths occurred in Wiregrass counties. There were only 29 fatal crashes in Wiregrass counties in 2015.
The research shows that many fatalities could have been prevented if people had been wearing seat belts.
State Troopers say not buckling up, speed, alcohol and distraction are contributing factors.
"But probably the most important thing is that you need to be paying attention,” said Trooper Kevin Cook. “I mean, that's what we're seeing going on is distracted driving."
The odds of being in a fatal crash if you’re wearing a seat belt are only 1 in 400. When you're not buckled up, odds increase to 1 in 13 according to the study.